With the holiday gatherings and seasonal whirl in the rear-view mirror, you’ll have plenty of time to dive into some of the best books that hit the shelves in 2013. The weather outside is frightful, so stay in and catch up. . . .
The Circle by Dave Eggers | Knopf | $27.95 | Eggers’s latest book takes place in the dystopian world of The Circle, a corporation that values transparency above all else — at the expense of privacy, anonymity, and personhood as defined as anything other than social media presence. It’s a frightening take on topics that were in the news this year, from one of this country’s literary stars.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt | Little, Brown and Company | $30 | This highly anticipated and sprawling coming-of-age novel is the author’s third in as many decades (it joins The Secret History and The Little Friend). The Washington Post said: “Tartt has created a rare treasure: a long novel that never feels long, a book worthy of our winter hibernation by the fire.”
Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker | Blue Rider Press | $26.95 | Paul Chowder, Baker’s eccentric protagonist from The Anthologist, is back; this time around, he’s focused on songwriting instead of poetry. As it does in all his books, Baker’s prose shines with warm humor, sharp insights, and digressive attention to detail.
Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times edited by mickey huff and andy lee roth | Seven Stories Press | $19.95 | Twenty-five underreported or otherwise censored stories from the past year, including pieces on American whistleblowers, fracking, and peaceful revolution in Iceland, plus thoughtful analysis of this year’s Infotainment offenses, examples of “Media Democracy in Action,” and a detailed examination of an elite transnational “superclass.”
Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesamyn Ward | Bloomsbury | $26 | A brave book about racism, poverty, and drug addiction in rural Mississippi that achieves bittersweet beauty.
The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World by Lincoln Paine| Knopf | $40 | This hulking tome (784 pages!) looks at world history through a nautical lens.
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett | Scribner | $27 | A sobering but inspiring account of one young woman’s 460-day ordeal as a hostage in Somalia.
Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie | Quirk Books | $19.95 | Mini-biographies of real-life princesses who would have fit right in on an episode of The Bad Girls Club, with chapters on history’s regal Warriors, Usurpers, Schemers, Partiers, and Madwomen. Offbeat offerings
Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge | Drawn and Quarterly | $21.95 | A graphic novel about Planned Parenthood founder and birth control activist Margaret Sanger, who once said: “As a propagandist, I see immense advantages in being gagged. It silences me, but it makes millions of others talk about me, and the cause in which I live.”